Single Review: LeAnn Rimes, “Swingin’”

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June 1, 2010

John Anderson’s early 1983 hit, “Swingin’”, is the song that propelled his mainstream country music career. The quirky song that chronicled the mundane details of young infatuation is more loved for its unadulterated cheesiness than for being anything akin to a masterpiece. In fact, it sounds deliciously dated today, which only accentuates its cult appeal.

On her upcoming album that is dedicated to covering love songs, LeAnn Rimes energetically revives the old Anderson classic. Charlotte is replaced by Charlie, the horns and organ are replaced by masterful guitar slinging from producer Vince Gill, and the obnoxious peanut gallery chorus is completely eliminated. As a result, we are treated to a jaunty, open performance that sounds like a skilled jam session rather than a stuffy studio affair.

As the lead single to a covers album of love songs, “Swingin’” proves to be a welcome lead off to an album with an admittedly dubious concept on paper. Then again, Rimes has already assured us that”it’s not just a covers record where I’m covering the songs from front to back where it sounds exactly the same.”

Fortunately, with probably the best single that we’ll hear this summer, that assessment seems to be dead on accurate.

Written by John Anderson & Lionel Delmore

Grade: A

Listen: LeAnn Rimes, “Swingin”

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27 Comments

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  1. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar says:

    Fantastic. Looking forward to the album.

  2. Cutting the TreacleNo Gravatar says:

    Leeann: “the obnoxious peanut gallery chorus is completely eliminated”.

    Me: I loved that peanut gallery – it reminded me of the background singers on “The Streak” and other Ray Stevens classics. But it was the early 80′s, I was 10 and who knew any better.

  3. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    I love the peanut gallery too. They are obnoxious though.

  4. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Just to clarify, “As a result, we are treated to a jaunty, open performance that sounds like a skilled jam session rather than a stuffy studio affair” isn’t meant to say that I think the original sounds like a “stuffy studio affair.” I realize it could read that way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the John Anderson original.

  5. J.R. JourneyNo Gravatar says:

    You certainly think more of this version than I do. I think the tempo change and the resulting instrumentation are just weird, and I don’t like the sound. The vocals are my main gripe though – she’s singing the song like it’s a story instead of a sultry love song, plus she’s warbling more than usual. I just can’t get into it. Furthermore, I hope you’re wrong that this is the best single we’ll hear this Summer.

    Well-written review though.

  6. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    I like it about as much as I possibly can considering that I’m not a huge fan of the song to begin with. I hope the rest of the album is as adventurous as this, since I tend to find straight cover albums pretty boring.

  7. JCHNo Gravatar says:

    The jury is still out for me on this track as I am quite partial to the original and find the tempo on this to be rather odd. Either way, I am looking forward to the album.

  8. NicolasNo Gravatar says:

    I’m not in love with this… it may grow on me, but IDK

    The thing I’m most interested is seeing how this will fare at radio… I don’t see how a song like this is going to put LeAnn Rimes back in the spotlight

  9. ErikNo Gravatar says:

    I would’ve given this song a B because I don’t think she really nails the concept of the song, but I do agree with most of your review, Leeann.

  10. TomNo Gravatar says:

    …you obviously can sing “swinging” without this fantastic twang that makes it actually work in the first place, but as much as i enjoy leann rimes’ music in general, this one ain’t doin’ it for me.

  11. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Nicolas,
    I don’t imagine this will do well on radio either. For that reason, it’s interesting that they chose to go this way for a single release, since she’s not exactly done with possible radio success yet. I think this might have done okay in the nineties, since it reminds me of some of Vince’s old productions (“One More Last Chance, “Liza Jane”, “What the Cowgirls Do”).

    I actually agree that the vocal is sort of the troubling part of the recording. She sounds rather good, but her voice isn’t as full as usual. Then again, neither is Anderson’s on his version.

    As far as the tempo change, I think it works for me because she kind of has to completely change the song in order to have a chance of being able to be successful with the song. Aside from Chris Young’s very recent acoustic version, I really couldn’t imagine anyone being able to cover the song without it sounding like kareoke. Both Young and Rimes change the song in order to make it work for them; Chris stripping it down completely (and slowing down the tempo a bit) and Rimes changing the instruments and tempo. It’s one of those songs that’s so hokey in its original form that it’s hard to recreate it without simply going your own way, I’d think.

    It’s interesting that I thought this would be an instant “hit” with people, but it seems that I may be the only one to dig it as much as I do. I played it a zillion times last night, which is rare for me.

  12. JosephNo Gravatar says:

    Although I find her diction troubling at times (it’s difficult for me to understand what she is saying), I totally dig the groove of the song. She’s one talented lady, and Vince’s involvement is only icing on the cake.

  13. Paul DennisNo Gravatar says:

    C+ at best

    “Swinging” is a period piece. Even John Anderson doesn’t sing the song very well – I’ve seen him perform the song live several times (over a 25 year period) and he has re-recorded the song on several occasions and none of those recordings are very good. It’s as if there was one magical moment in the studio and they were fortunate to capture it for posterity. Once the moment was gone, it was gone forever

  14. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    I see what you’re saying, Paul, especially about Anderson’s own rerecordings. I don’t completely agree that there can only be one good version, though I will concede that Anderson’s original is the definitive. Right now, this is the one that I’m going to be playing a lot.

    Usually, I can tell if a song is one that I like but shouldn’t, but I just can’t hear it with this one, even though I’m in the minority so far. It’s strange to me, but I can accept it.:)

  15. I don’t like this at all. I never much liked the original, but this is worse; far too fast for my taste. I’m very taken with Chris Young’s new version though.

  16. janiceNo Gravatar says:

    oh my god
    this version is great!
    i understand her
    she sings the crap out of it
    i think vince’s playing is outstanding
    i am so thankful that the production isnt
    that stupid CCM sound country radio has taken on for so long
    the song is a perfect summer ditty
    that is suppose to be just that
    a ditty to dance to
    and enjoy
    all of you stick in the muds relishing a version for old times sake… wow
    i for one get a feeling this new cd of hers is gonna be great! keep it coming Ms. Rimes

  17. ZackNo Gravatar says:

    love it!! A-

    I doubt it will be a big radio hit for her though, too bad, its a pretty great lead in to her new album.

  18. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar says:

    I think this cover is awesome. If she’s this fearless on the rest of the album, I’m in.

  19. JonathanNo Gravatar says:

    Terrific review, Leeann.

    Interestingly, the first version of this single that I heard online was maybe 10% faster than the version you’ve linked here, and that tempo shift seems to have made a world of difference. The first time I heard this, it was nearly unlistenable, like Rimes was trying to imitate those old “Micro Machines” commercials.

    Just a hair slower, though? I dig it. As Kevin said, there’s a fearlessness to the arrangement that is in line with what has made Rimes’ last couple of albums the best of her career. This definitely bodes well.

    I wasn’t sold on Chris Young’s version or the one from Deana Carter’s The Chain, but I can get on board with this one.

  20. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    Just yesterday, my local country radio station played this single and asked callers to vote on whether or not they liked it. I called in and drooled over how much I loved it, but I was beyond furious when 58% of the callers gave it thumbs-down. Apparently, the station was bombarded with calls from loyal John Anderson fans who said that LeAnn should just “leave that one to John Anderson.” I strongly believe that, even though this single is a remake, it should be judged on its own terms instead of merely being compared to the original.

    I applaud LeAnn for putting such a clever and original twist on this song in a way that is still respectful of the original and decidedly country. I hope country radio gives this awesome single the radio airplay that it so justly deserves.

  21. ErikNo Gravatar says:

    She’ll be performing this on the CMT Awards – she’s apparently been training hard for the choreography. Should be good.

  22. Paul DennisNo Gravatar says:

    I am looking forward to her album – I generally like covers albums – and I’m sure I’ll like the rest of the album more than I like this particular track.

    “Swingin’ ” is a hard song to cover and I have yet to hear a cover version that I liked (I have not heard Chris Young’s version, yet)

  23. plain_joNo Gravatar says:

    an obnoxious disgrace

  24. DeaneNo Gravatar says:

    Horrific performance.

  25. Steve from BostonNo Gravatar says:

    I like the Anderson version. :)

  26. KristieNo Gravatar says:

    I have to disagree with many! As soon as I heard this on the radio, I LOVED IT! The song has ALWAYS been a favorite of mine since being a little girl and when I heard this, I thought “WOW”..good job, Leann. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the album.

  27. Bluegrass TimNo Gravatar says:

    Great Job on the song and the review!!! Leann Rimes has been awesome since she was 11 years old and continues to keep up with the scene with creativity and style!!! I like John Anderson’s original….but this is new year, new version, and a new singer and I LOVE it. Remember that about half of country music fans can’t even remember the original. Rimes herself was only 1 year old when it came out. Keep up the good work!

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